DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Rick and Morty episode “Rick & Morty’s Thanksploitation Spectacular” is laden with spoilers. You’ve been warned. Proceed at your own peril.
Welcome back, old fart d*cks! Rick and Morty gave us yet another weird episode this week. “Rick & Morty’s Thanksploitation Spectacular” is a satire of American history and conspiracy theories, but that’s not the “weird” to which I’m referring. Sometimes, I wonder if the writers sit down and think, “What else haven’t we covered yet? Oh, what about Marines that turn into turkeys to battle an old sci-fi dude?”
All in all, it’s an interesting outing. It may take more than one viewing to fully absorb what I just witnessed. That being said, I’m always game for a Keith David-heavy episode.
Ready to delve into “Rick & Morty’s Thanksploitation Spectacular”? Let’s get to it.
Now, we open with Rick (voiced by Justin Roiland) and Morty (voiced by Roiland) attempting to steal the Constitution. It’s very National Treasure without the Declaration of Independence. However, before they can commit a federal crime, Morty manages to shoot a laser beam through multiple American monuments, including the Statue of Liberty.
Apparently, the Statue was a Trojan horse. There’s a robotic French assassin hidden inside! She begins to wreak havoc on New York. Not only that, but Morty destroyed the Constitution. Uh oh. Really big federal crime!
Later, Beth (voiced by Sarah Chalke) and Jerry (voiced by Chris Parnell) are not too happy about spending Thanksgiving entrapped in their own home. Rick has implemented a series of impenetrable defenses to shield themselves from the government. He’s on the phone with the President (voiced by David). The latter is trying to arrest Morty and Rick for decimating the Constitution.
Next, Rick ushers Beth, Jerry, Morty and Summer (voiced by Spencer Grammer) over to the dinner table. Simultaneously, the President assembles his war room team to hatch a plan regarding the capture of Rick Sanchez. Rick’s plan is to transform himself into a turkey so the President will pardon him … again.
However, the President is two steps ahead of him. There are seamless transitions between the President divulging his plan and Rick explaining his. The Pres will morph a slew of Marines into turkeys that’ll effectively identify Turkey Rick and Turkey Morty. Bam! Both Summer and the Vice President inquire why the dueling pair don’t just screw it out. You know, for funsies.
But this is Rick and Morty, folks. It’s all about untethered rage! Then, one of the funniest sequences on the series ever plays out. We see a horde of real “Americans” a.k.a. hillbillies leave their super pregnant babes to do their patriotic duty — transform into turkeys to capture a crazy “Doctor Who” dude. The country-fied song coupled with these burly men turning into fowl is perfection personified.
Next, we see the turkey Marines move out into the field in search of our eponymous pair. Rick places robotic versions of themselves at home as a distraction for the government. Meanwhile, they’re already in fowl form, flying above the truck that’s transporting the turkeys. I didn’t know I needed to see Turkey Rick duking it out with a bunch of other turkeys, but here we are.
Fortunately, Rick and Morty are foiling the Pres with every unexpected step. Finally, he decides to transform himself into a turkey. If you want something done right…
Suddenly, while Turkey Pres is fighting Turkey Rick, the former’s tracking device is launched out of his fowl body. It’s swallowed by a real turkey. The Vice Pres and co. bring the real turkey inside to be changed back, under the impression that they’ve snagged the President.
Then, they turn the aforementioned real turkey into a human. He looks like the President, but something’s … off. You can tell he’s not really human. Meanwhile, Turkey Rick, Turkey Morty and Turkey Pres are dumped with the other unwanted fowl into an underground cavern. They’re now food for none other than Spider FDR! Talk about a new deal for them (No? Nothing?)!
According to Turkey Pres, that’s the real FDR. He was the guinea pig for the polio vaccine, which morphed him into an immortal spider over time. If this was written pre-COVID, then this is definitely prescient. This more than touches on some folks’ fear of getting the COVID vaccine. You might transform into an immortal spider, y’all!
Thankfully, our turkey trio turns back into humans. Just in time for Morty to kill Spider FDR with fire. Guess he’s not so immortal after all. Fireside chat!
Above ground, the Not President demands one of his staff members turn the remaining turkeys into humans. Oh, and give them one thousand percent more strength and agility. Time for some super soldiers. Not President is delivering a speech to Congress. Apparently, he sold New York to France. Oh, and he’s giving all of the money from that sale to Congress.
But not so fast! Rick, Morty and the Pres all burst onto the scene, naked as the day they were born. While Congress can now see that Not President isn’t the real deal, they would still rather support him. He’s making them rich!
Later, the naked trio arrives at the Smith residence. After getting clothed, they sit down for dinner with Beth, Jerry and Summer. Rick and the Pres spend most of that time bickering with each other.
Suddenly, they see on the news that Not President has enacted a mandate to morph all turkeys in America into super-soldier hybrids. The Pres knows that the only way to stop this is to open the Crypt of the New World. This is what Rick was attempting to gain access to at the beginning of the episode.
However, the Pres informs him that it doesn’t hold buried treasure, but something significantly more valuable. The Pres, Rick and Morty visit a bar in middle America. They need more soldiers to turn into turkeys again for the good of the country. The Pres imparts a rousing speech that consists of repeated words, listed words and repeated lists of repeated words. It’s immensely effective. Every soldier is on board! Lock? And Load?
Next, we see an unlicensed AT-AT from Star Wars make an appearance. It’s a decoy, though — a distraction for the hybrid super-soldier turkeys. The turkey Marines combat the hybrid soldiers while Rick, Morty and the Pres access to the Crypt of the New World. We learn that giant dinosaur-turkey robots were the scourge of the Earth way back when.
Then, robotic creatures that look like pilgrims and aliens came along, forging peace amid their hatred of the massive dinosaur-turkey bots. This plot point feels … iffy. Anything even remotely painting pilgrims in a “positive” light doesn’t sit well with me, even though this episode is wall-to-wall satire. Not to mention, the aliens appear to faintly resemble Indigenous folks and seeing them “get along” with the pilgrims doesn’t feel right.
So, the Pres and Rick unleash the pilgrim and alien robots to help them defeat the super-soldier hybrids. Lots of robots and turkeys here.
Suddenly, a field of corn sprouts up around the battlefield. Not President reveals that the rocket currently launching into space will spread a substance that’ll transform every turkey on the planet into a super soldier. Rick and Morty fly into space to prevent that from happening. The Pres and Not President proceed to duke it out.
Of course, Morty fails to cut the blue wire, which would’ve deactivated the rocket/device. Instead, he lasers through it and what looks like a portion of the Moon. Morty, always the f*ck up.
Back on Earth, the cornfield’s on fire and the Presidents are fighting. The Pres critically wounds Not President, and the latter procures a wishbone from his chest. He wishes that he explodes. Clever bit is clever! Not President explodes, sending the Pres flying into the water. While there, he runs through the highlights reel of his life, which inexplicably includes every major Playstation model release. This cracks me up.
Next, Rick pulls the Pres out of the water. Everyone and everything is safe! The pilgrim and alien robots depart. Oh, and Rick has been pardoned, even though he’s currently not a turkey.
The end-credit scene features one of the country Marines out shopping with his baby mama and newborn child. A container of blueberries spills and his old turkey habits kick in. He begins feverishly feasting on them. One man shouts, “I refuse to pay for this man’s health care,” and this resonates a little too much for this American.
Overall, this is a strange one. For me, I think the addition of the pilgrim and alien robots put a damper on this episode. The moment wherein the pilgrims and “Indigenous” aliens look as if they’re about to fight only to “hug it out” just doesn’t hit the mark. Again, making the pilgrims look like saviors is a peculiar choice.
That being said, “Rick & Morty’s Thanksploitation Spectacular” addresses Indigenous genocide, racism and slavery: the very foundation of America. The jokes were genuinely funny, albeit the outing did feel like a competition to see how much weird stuff the writers could cram into one episode. Perhaps this one garners a rewatch.
Rick and Morty airs Sundays at 11 pm on your Adult Swim affiliate.
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